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Nine teens plead in sex case

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / August 17, 1998

HAHNVILLE – Nine teen-agers who faced trial Thursday for allegedly having sex with an underage Destrehan girl accepted plea agreements before 29th Judicial District Judge Kirk Granier.

“I was very surprised,” Assistant 29th Judicial District Attorney Kim McElwee commented. “It’s a great relief.”Another defendant in the case did not accept a plea agreement and faces trial Oct. 26.The 15-year-old victim, according to McElwee, agreed to the outcome prior to the plea agreements being made. It was done, McElwee said, out ofconsideration for her, so she would not have to endure a trial.

“We’re bracing for the reaction from the public,” McElwee continued.

“Some people would never be happy no matter what we did.”Kentrell Jenkins, 18, pled guilty to three counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile and one count of being a principal to carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

McElwee said Jenkins arranged for the other defendants and himself to have sex with the girl on three occasions. He accepted a 5-year suspendedsentence and three years of active probation.

Lance Carter, 19, New Sarpy, Wyndell Mitchell, 19, Destrehan, and Wendell Smith, 18, New Sarpy, each pled guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile and accepted a six-month suspended sentence and one year inactive probation.

Dwayne Donald, 17, St. Rose, Reynard Evers, 18, St. Rose, and LeonardHarris, 17, St. Rose, each pled guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile andaccepted a 2-year suspended sentence and one year active probation.

Charges against Joseph Johnson III, 17, St. Rose, and Jose Hopkiss, 19,Destrehan, are likely to be dropped, McElwee said, depending on their cooperation with authorities in the remaining case.

The trial of Marcus Bates, 17, St. Rose, is being handled in juvenile court,as he was 16 years old at the time of the alleged incident. He is chargedwith sexual battery.

Most of the group had been charged with carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

Greene faced sexual battery charges and Hipkiss faced crime against nature charges. Donald, Harris and Johnson had also been charged withpornography involving juveniles.

The pornography charges were brought since the sexual acts were allegedly videotaped, but the videotape never turned up for investigators despite a reward offered by the district attorney’s office.

Originally, the young men were arrested on more serious charges, including aggravated rape. But charges were lowered by a St. CharlesParish grand jury.

Some defendants have admitted to having sex with the girl but said it was consensual. Even so, sexual relations with a juvenile two or more yearsyounger is illegal.

“They were old enough to know better,” McElwee said. “Lack of knowledgeis not a defense.”Jenkins is still jailed on an attempted murder charge in connection with the May 24 shooting death of Cleophus Greene III, 17, of St. Rose. Greenehad also been a defendant in the case, but officials have said they believe the shooting was unrelated to the sex crime.

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